As a teacher, you get some good days, some bad days, some unremarkable days, and, once a week, you get to be glad that it’s Friday.
This week was actually a pretty light work load for me, which is good and bad–good in that I get more time to do things in the morning, and bad because I get paid less after the pay period. There is, of course, a minimum payment, provided that I showed up every day to work, but when I have extra lessons, I get paid extra. So seeing as most of my students canceled on me this week, I know I’m going to get a light paycheck in two weeks.
It doesn’t really matter how much I get paid, however. I really do get paid more than enough to survive here, and the biggest thing I seem to spend money on is food and LUSH products (the LUSH obsession is new, but it is surprisingly strong). I think that my next big expenditure should be buying a new yoga mat, because I don’t particularly enjoy doing yoga on the hardwood floor.
Yoga is actually one of the things I’ve been doing in some of my spare time. I truly, truly love doing yoga–it produces a feeling unlike almost anything else. My first experience with yoga was actually in the Caribbean. Imagine doing yoga looking out over the sunset in the evening. It doesn’t really get much better than that. But the yoga studio I went to in college definitely was a big contender. I loved the teachers and the environment, and I was always bringing my friends to come do yoga class with me on Friday for $5. I brought enough new people that they gave me a coupon for a free class as appreciation for attracting so many new customers.
Additionally, this week I have been slowly getting back into being active. Every other day I have been doing yoga or some cardio or other exercise. It’s not much–really, I mean, it’s only 15 minutes or something of exercise, and on the yoga days it might be 30-45 minutes–but it’s enough that I feel like I’m doing something. Even if it’s only 15 minutes, I already feel a little bit better about myself. And there’s something nice about walking around with sore legs or arms.
Anyhow, most of this stuff doesn’t really seem to have much to do with the Goal of the Witch #3, and today is supposed to be: Discuss the Goal of the Witch #3: Learn and grow.
I actually have a lot to say on this subject.
As a teacher, facilitating learning and growing is my job, but as any teacher knows, it goes the other way around, too. I’m always learning things from my students, even if I don’t know exactly what it is at the moment I’m learning it. Now that I’ve finished college (my bachelor’s degree), however, it can be difficult to actually hunker down and do homework or learn something new. It’s very rewarding once I’ve done it, but it’s tempting to go waste time on the Internet instead of opening up a book or doing my homework, especially my language homework.
I think it’s important to realize that there are always bumps along the way in our path. Heck, I’ve been trying to figure out my spiritual stance for years now, and I usually don’t feel like I’m any closer to the end than when I first started. But then again, that’s the point, isn’t it? Truly, there is no end to learning and growing. It’s like the song Amazing Grace. One of the verses says, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, there’s no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’ve first begun.” Grammatical issues aside, this verse is so poignant, because it speaks to the eternity of time. Now, of course, we’re not going to live forever, but the same idea still stands–we are never really closer to the end of our learning and growing, because the learning and growing never stops. You could probably argue that you are learning and growing right up until your last breath, because I suppose that the process of understanding you’re about to die is a form of growth.
Now, I said I had a lot to say on this subject, but at the moment, it’s really escaping me. So I guess I’ll tell an anecdote.
As I’ve stated before here, I’m in what many Witches call “the Broom Closet.” Basically, I’m not “out” as someone who is studying Witchcraft. Now, to be fair, it’s not entirely true. A few people know, but some of the most important people in my life are not aware, and I daresay will continue to be unaware for some time. That being said, I made a major step the other week and I called up my brother, who is, at the moment, over 4,000 miles away in America.
My brother and I actually talk about religion and spirituality quite a bit. It’s been a strange experience, because we are almost never on the same page spiritually. When I was very innocent, he was a boy in high school who was not so religious; when I was quite religious in early high school, he was a jaded senior who was still not so religious; when I became a jaded upperclassman in high school, he went to college, got involved in a religious group, and was experiencing a time when he actually seemed to feel very religious; then, for a brief time, we were both basically atheists; now I’m doing this–whatever this, exactly, is–and he is, again, pretty atheist. However, when we were on the phone, he surprised me a little, because he said that, while he’s pretty much atheist, sometimes he spurts out a little prayer or something and gets some actual results. For example, he said he was on a good streak for saying, “Please, God, let the bus still be at the stop when I get there,” and the bus still being there. Whether or not he genuinely credits this to God is pretty dubious, but he mentioned it, which means he’s been thinking about it.
I decided to go for it and ask him, “What do you think of Wicca?” and he blew me away by saying, “What’s that?” My first boyfriend had brought Wicca up a few times (he had an eclectic group of friends) and I figured that, for sure, my brother had some idea about what it was, but he was clueless. So, not expecting to have to explain everything, I fumbled around a crash course in some of the basic ideas of Wicca. [I want to reiterate here that I do not identify as Wiccan, but sometimes it is easier to say Wicca than Neo-Pagan Solitary Witchcraft-type thing…] I probably butchered it, to be honest. I find that, when I’m reading about Wicca or Witchcraft, things make sense to me, but then when I try to explain it, I sound like an idiot.
At the end, my brother seemed to not really care, but rather expressed the opinion that it’s easier to not even bother. In his science-y mind, human existence is about procreating and producing dopamine. There is no purpose to being alive, and likely no afterlife, and he even said that the logical thing would be to just end one’s own life, except we don’t because of the prospect of getting more dopamine in the future. (If you’re getting alarm bells, don’t worry, I was like, “Wtf?” too. However, I know my brother well, and it’s not like he actually wants to kill himself–he’s just speaking in a cold, factual way. Probably for shock value.) When I said, “Well that sounds depressing,” he just said, “Really? Why?” And, I guess that in some sense, he’s right. I went through this existential crisis back in college, and I couldn’t figure out what the purpose of my life was. I had to settle on the only thing I could–much like what my brother settled on–which was, it doesn’t freaking matter why we’re here, it just matters that we are. And while we’re here, there are people who are suffering. And my duty, after whatever need for self-preservation there is, is to preserve my species. And I want to do that by decreasing the suffering of those around me. I’ve romanticized it a bit and said, “If I can just help one person in this life, I’ll be happy at the end,” but I’m basically saying exactly what my brother said.
So, I want to say, I understand where my brother is coming from on almost all accounts. But the one thing I couldn’t really get behind was what he said about church. He said that, since there is no purpose, there’s no need to bother with alternate spiritualities. We were brought up Catholic, and even if you’re atheist, you might as well still just go to Catholic church and keep up the facade and get some enjoyment from singing the songs or whatever.
But I don’t think I can agree with that entirely. Sure, I still feel Catholic sometimes. When I see a Catholic church, I love to go inside. I feel like it’s a home for me still, in some way. I feel something spiritual when I look around and see all the beautiful work people have put into praising God. I love singing the music that I grew up with. I still think of my home church as a community that I belong to. I still take Communion, even though that’s definitely frowned upon in my current state of sin (but I think it’s between me and God, so to my friend once who told me she’d take me to church but I couldn’t eat the Communion because she knew I’d sinned–get over yourself).
I want something else, though. I’ve got all the cold, hard facts of our existence and its futility. But I want to do something for myself. I want to discover new pathways and study magick, if there’s a chance that’s what flows through the universe, and grow beautiful gardens with healing herbs; I want to get back to the old ways and yet enjoy the new things we can take advantage of. I want to be able to trust myself and yet find a community if I want to. I will do what I want to, damnit, if it doesn’t hurt anybody. And ye harm none, do what ye will.
I don’t want to just sit in Catholic church and listen to the same parables telling me the same things. There’s something wonderful about having that past, and still loving that tradition, but looking for more, too. That is learning and growing.
Well, then. I guess I had something to say after all.